Thus far, we have come across three inordinately long psalms. Psalm 52 is the longest, but next to it is Psalm 89. It is a psalm of “disorientation.” Imagine, if you will, someone in deep sorrow, suffering a life-crushing event, bewildered and confused, sitting with a face moist with tears and saying over and over “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.”
This is the image of Ethan the Ezrahite, who penned only one psalm.
In this psalm, Ethan mourns the condition of his nation. He doesn’t understand. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. The writer recalls the promise of God to David recorded in 2 Samuel 7. He sees it as unconditional. God promised that David’s kingdom would endure forever. But it doesn’t look like that at all. Perhaps this is another post exile poem and that would fit the description of Jerusalem in verses 40-45.
In any case, Ethan doesn’t believe the plight of God’s people is due to the inability of God to keep His promise. It is evident from the first part of the poem he believes in the unassailable power of God. He does believe their condition is due to God deliberately violating His own covenant – and he doesn’t understand why.
It’s easy for us to say: “He should have known it was because of the sins of Israel.” But it’s not that easy. There are many times we too find ourselves wondering why God has not done for us what He has promised to do. After all, he says whatever we ask, we will have (see Mark 11:23). How are we supposed to feel when we don’t?
Ethan gives voice and vocabulary to a common human condition, but he also provides us an unwavering example of someone who, though in total darkness with regard to understanding, is content, in that darkness, to still yield to God despite the fact He has not shown Himself to be trustworthy.
It’s a HUGE statement of faith.